The start of the high school basketball season is less than a month away. For head coach Drew Tyler and the boy’s basketball team at Oxford High School, the expectations are high.
The Chargers are an experienced group returning seven seniors. The starting line will show off that age with four of the starting five entering their final year.
Seniors David Dennis and Shelby McEwen will help lead the offense accompanied by fellow seniors Josh Gibbs and Cortez Jones. Dennis and McEwen will play in the four and five spots, while Gibbs and Jones will act as double shooting guards.
McEwen, who gained national fame when he won a Las Vegas dunk competition, is ready to take on a leadership role for this team.
“Being a leader is a big part of my game,” McEwen said. “If I can go out there, and make a big play early, and get the guys fired up, then I’ve done my job.”
McEwen, who said that he loves nothing more than getting a dunk on the first play of the game, believes if he goes hard all game it will help inspire the other players.
Dennis, McEwen’s fellow big man, is looking forward to the season.
“We have a lot of seniors, so this is really our last chance at going far in basketball, which means a lot of leadership out of the seniors.” Dennis said
Dennis is looking forward to playing division rivals New Hope and Center Hill. Center Hill, who put the Chargers out of the playoffs last year, and New Hope, who beat them twice in the regular season, are teams the Chargers are looking forward to playing.
Dennis, however, just wants to beat whoever is in the way.
The main look of youth for the Chargers comes from sophomore starting point guard Jarkel Joiner.
Joiner, who said the team’s biggest leader is Dennis, is willing to take the challenge of being a leader on the team, but finds it tense.
“It feels good to be a leader and trusted by coach, but it’s a lot of pressure,” Joiner said.
Tyler had nothing but high praise for Joiner, saying he was one of the top five basketball players he’s coached at this point. Tyler said he could potentially move up that list depending on how he plays over the next few months.
Dennis said Joiner can shoot really well, and is a great teammate that will move the ball around.
The Chargers will also get some help off the bench from junior Ole Miss wide receiver commit DK Metcalf, senior Josh Yi, and sophomore Hiram Wadlington.
With the state playoffs now sending four teams from each bracket to Jackson, the Chargers were one win away last year. Tyler and his players expect to be there this year, and they understand that in Jackson, anything can happen.
“The reality is, we should be in Jackson,” Tyler said.
The Chargers start the regular season Nov. 11 at home vs. Calhoun City and start division play at New Hope Jan. 16.